In this almost lyrical memoir of his youth in the bustling bubbling city, the author tells of life with his parents, two brothers and a sister, all living in the attic of a building where his father worked pressing plastic buttons. They were there because his family was relocated, his father being considered a ‘landlord’ because of his three meager acres in the far province of Jiangxi, and so they lived in the attic for over 30 years. It was so steep that there was no room for beds under the slooping roof walls, and they slept on straw pallets. Their only window looked out onto the roof, which they considered a bonus because it gave access to the roof for sitting, and airing the bedding.
It is all about the daily life in the city, the constant work to acquire enough food, education, and a peaceful life. His older brother is jailed for two years without even being charged, another older brother makes a life in another far location where he eventually meets a young woman and marries. His sister is sent to work in some remote area tapping trees, but is so miserable there that she maims herself in order to be permitted to leave the place and return home. She then marries a local farmer, but they live in the city in the attic with his parents.
He himself finally finds a young woman who is willing to visit the attic home more than once, and they eventually marry and have a child, and the narrative ends when he is able to leave China for the United States in order to attend university there.
Just a beautiful and profoundly story.